Judge halts revised refugee order; Trump claims ruling ‘makes us look weak’
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In another blow to President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda, on March 16, a federal judge in Hawaii halted the roll-out of the Trump administration’s revised travel order, only hours before it was scheduled to take effect.
Even after the administration’s attempts to refine the original order to withstand legal challenges, the judge in the case, Judge Derrick Watson, issued a temporary restraining order, which stalled the roll-out nationwide. However, the ruling does not rule on the constitutionality of the actual action.
A written opinion by the judge asserts that the “plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merit of their Establishment Clause claim,” or the law that bars discrimination on the basis of religion.
And despite the strenuous objections from Trump and his legal team, who claim that because it doesn’t include every single Muslim in the ban that it is not discriminating, the judge ended up agreeing with previous judges who say not all Muslims need to be target—it is all about intent.
“It is undisputed that the Executive Order does not facially discriminate for or against any particular religion,” the decision said. “The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.”
Shortly after the ruling, President Trump derided the decision in front of a riled-up crowd of ardent Trump supports at a campaign-style rally in Nashville, Tenn.
The president and his lawyers argued that the law is very clear in offering the president the exclusive power in deciding whom they let into the country.
“The law and the Constitution give the president the power to suspend immigration when he deems… it to be in our countries best interest,” Trump said. “We are talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people!”
Trump also lamented that the new ruling was blocking “a watered down order” intended to replace an order that “should’ve never been blocked to start with,” calling the ruling “an unprecedented judicial overreach.” He went on to criticise the appearance the ruling creates.
“This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way we no longer are,” Trump said. “We are going to fight this terrible ruling, taking our cases all the way they need to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court. We’re going to win, we’re going to keep our citizens safe.”
While the restraining order only affects the “enforcement or implementation” of two of the executive order’s sections, they are arguably the most important ones: the section barring “unrestricted entry” to nationals of six-majority Muslim nations—with the notable omission of Iraqi nationals—and the section halting the dealing of refugee status for 120 days by the government.
After the original order was stalled in the courts, the replacement was crafted to included many caveats. For example, the new order gave exceptions to legal permanent residences of the U.S., diplomats from the included nations, those who are dual-citizens and who aren’t traveling with the include country’s passport, just to name a few.
Before it was halted, the new executive order would have barred entry into the United States from citizens from Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Iran and Syria for 90 days and cut the number of refugees allowed into the country by nearly 50 percent, from 110,000 to 50,000 people.
The order, however, also gave the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security discretion to allow those who are not permitted into the country in, as long “as they determine that the entry of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest and does not pose a threat to the security or welfare of the United State.”
These revisions were aimed to placate some of the concerns over the initial order—in addition to adding an initial grace period aimed at preventing the chaotic and tumultuous roll-out of the original order. But attorneys for Hawaii argue that the issues with the first order persist.
The judge’s opinion also noted that Hawaii likely has standing to sue since it is conceivable that they will suffer “irreparable harm” as result of the ban, one of the requirement to actually file a suit.
When the first order was issued, critics decried the executive order as “un-American” as protesters flocked airports across the nation in order in protest.